Four years ago, I went to the Harvard Medical School second-year show, which was phenomenal. Now, I may have finally found its match: the NYU Law Revue.
Like the Second Year Show, the Law Revue is a musical comedy with a cast of students in an intensive, elite graduate program, and songs with familiar melodies but new, subject-appropriate lyrics. They’re both hilarious … but the Law Revue takes it up another notch.
Most obviously, the Law Revue has an incredible amount of dancing, with detailed choreography. On several occasions, the entire cast was on stage at once, singing and dancing, each time in a totally different costume. There are close to a dozen major soloists, most of whom have to sing while dancing, which is basically impossible.
The musical numbers are all backed by a live band … not an orchestra. The Second Year Show had an orchestra with a ton of violinists, which makes perfect sense for a talent pool of ex-premeds. Law Revue has a full brass band, with, if anything, an excess of saxophones. They passed time between scenes by covering pop songs that weren’t in the show, well enough to play any lounge in the city that’s big enough to hold them.
Every ticket holder receives a booklet that includes not just the basics, but also hilarious fictional biographies for every cast member, a detailed description of the cast and characters in every scene, and complete lyrics to every song in the show. Then, for audience members who aren’t lawyers, they also provided a “gLAWsarry” explaining the background on every inside joke, with even more humor written into the explanations themselves.
The amount of love this must have required is mind-boggling, and the amount of time (from some of the world’s busiest people) even moreso.
By the end of show, this all began to make sense to me. Practicing law is the art of writing within the constraints. Litigation is improv drama. Of course they have tons of people who want to write scripts and alternate lyrics, perform for an audience, and provide obsessively perfect documentation. Even the saxophones kind of fit: law is jazz!
Oh, by the way, this year’s comic plot: an evil corporation is about to produce an artificially intelligent document review engine, leading to totally computational law and 100% law student unemployment. I felt like a representative of the “enemy”.
P.S. My favorite reference was to this case